By Shermain Bique-Charles
US President Joe Biden has yet to acknowledge or respond to a letter from Prime Minister Gaston Browne requesting vaccinations for Caricom countries.
Browne responded “no” to questions from Observer on whether Biden had even acknowledged his letter.
But, he said that instead of making an attempt to contact them a second time, he would wait for a response a little while longer.
Last month, Browne requested that Caricom countries be included in the provision of AstraZeneca vaccines the US is sending to Canada and Mexico.
Pointing out that the Caribbean is the ‘third border’ of the United States, Browne argued that the safety of the US would be imperiled if Canada and Mexico are not inoculated to achieve herd immunity, and, similarly, the US would remain at risk if Caricom countries are neglected.
Biden is not the only leader who has not yet responded to Browne. In fact, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also remained silent on a request for vaccines for the twin island state.
In Britain’s case, the request for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines was demanded as compensation for alleged damage done to Antigua and Barbuda’s economy by British media reports which claimed an ‘Antigua variant’ of Covid-19 had been discovered in the UK. The reports followed a website posting by Britain’s public health agency that the variant had links to the twin island nation.
Browne proposed that the British government consider compensating Antigua and Barbuda with a donation of 100,000 doses of the vaccine.
The PM argued in his letter that Antigua and Barbuda is highly dependent on tourism and has long been a favoured holiday destination for British tourists, but that the media reports had caused hotel bookings to be cancelled.